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In the Service of an Unearthly God

                                    Nathaniel Perry

Do you remember how you learned to fall
asleep at night? Quieted, do you
imagine your imagination folding
up inside? Outside the house, the wind
is always blowing through the night trees, leaves
uncalmed but calming, autumn not yet fallen
but falling as it does—down through the trees
and also rising from the ground like light
or like a quiet sound. I imagine the shimmer
of window glass caught in the tilt of the last
lamp in your room, which you keep lit until dawn
overcomes it, I know. From the night side of the window,
of course, the room is clear—you almost
in bed, chair pushed back against the wall,
books closed and stacked along the wall, your face
both dark and still reflecting what it can
of light, as the window does inside the room,
the lamp light turning in the imperfections
of the glass and the darkness also spiraled
there exactly like the turning, against
the clearest streak of sky, of a rock thrown
in the service of an unearthly god. The loudest
crack of branches in the wind or car
backfiring on the forest road would not
pull that look from your face. Only sleep.
We do not know what is wanted of us or what
that want will do to us or know if we want
what is done to us, but still we talk of rising
in the morning, and some insist on rising as the only
way up, which I am not completely sure of
when I think of fall falling to the ground
and the way we all look to see it in
the dark or in the light of day. But I think
we do go folding our imaginations
up inside, and in the way that matters
our rising up again will matter, like a letter
unfolded twice beneath a light, a lamp
which also, in its way, does not seem to matter.

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